Josh Hart takes Philly pride into NBA Draft Combine

CHICAGO — Josh Hart is fighting to earn a place in the NBA, and he's doing it with the encouragement of Villanova and Philadelphia fans behind him. 

“Anyone that knows Philly, that's a blue-collar city that has that grit, that toughness to it,” Hart said Thursday. “Playing there for four years, that's kind of what I am. Having that support from them has been amazing the last four years and even still now, now that I'm gone. It's been great. Obviously, I'm from Maryland, I'm a Silver Spring kid, but Philly's always got a place in my heart.”

The Wildcats' guard is at the draft combine this week in Chicago, where he is going through tests, drills and meetings with teams to make an impression ahead of next month's draft. 

As of Thursday, he had met with the Heat, Lakers, Mavericks, Pelicans, Pistons, Timberwolves and Trail Blazers. He will meet with the Suns on Friday. He is not scheduled to meet or work out with the Sixers. 

“People have been tweeting about that all the time, me and the Sixers, but right now I haven’t really heard anything about that,” he said. 

Hart, who is listed as a shooting guard-small forward at the combine, does not want to pigeonhole himself in just one role. He noted he can play and defend four positions. He would rather define himself with this mindset. 

“Someone who's a winner,” he said. “Anyone that knows me, knows where I come from with definitely Villanova, knows I'm about winning. It's not about individual. It's not about ego. I'm a team player.”

Hart won the 2016 NCAA championship during his junior year with the Wildcats. He returned for his senior season and averaged 18.7 points (40.4 percent from three), 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Hart received the Julius Erving Award for the nation’s top small forward and was named a first-team All-American, among other accolades.

“I’m mature, mentally and physically,” Hart said. “I’m a senior, I’m a four-year guy, I guess I’m an old head compared to some of these guys. But I think I’m able to come in and make an impact right away. Coming from that culture, coming from Coach (Jay) Wright being polished as a professional, and that’s not just on the court, I think that kind of gives me a step up.”